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Thought for the Day: The Importance of Chanuka Lights

Davening with a minyan is important.  Shabbos is important.  Eating is important.  Shtayim mikra v'echad targum is important.  Getting enough sleep is important.  Chanuka licht are important.  We have lots and lots of draws on our time and we are forced to make trade offs all the time.  I first discovered how important shtayim mikra v'echad targum was while attending a shiur on Mishna Brura given by Rabbi Fuerst.  We got to the siman on shtayim mikra v'echad targum and I asked (in all innocence), "That's extra credit, right?"  The Rav answered, ending my innocence, "You have to put on t'fillin each day and ma'avir sedra every week."  Oh.

I recently saw an interesting p'sak in Halichos Shlomo regarding chanuka licht.  Imagine that one can either light chanuka licht at night or daven the next morning.  It could be a case where there is a plane leaving before plag ha'mincha (before it is possible to light chanuka candles) that would get you to your destination before z'man t'fila in the morning.  After that, you would have to drive and would not get to your destination until after z'man t'fila.  (I'll leave it to the interested reader to cook up enough other details to make davening impossible while still permitting k'ri'as sh'ma during that time.)  In any case, that's the situation.  What do you do?

The Halichos Shlomo says that you stay to light chanuka licht and accept the consequences that the next day you'll daven mincha, then tashlumin for shacharis, and then hallel b'yichidus.  Recall that davening tashlumin is a huge b'di'avad, only allowed when you are prevented from davening by circumstances completely out of your control.  "Completely out of your control" does not usually include decisions you made that put it out of your control. (Even though being too drunk to daven is an allowable reason to daven tashlumin, that's only if you had a reasonable expectation to be sober before sof z'man t'fila.)

What's so important about chanuka licht?  Pirsuma nisa -- publicizing that HaShem made a miracle for us.  Publicizing to whom?  To ourselves.  Why?  Because love is always having to remember wonderful things being done for you all the time, and the best way to remember is to tell others.  To proudly announce, "Yes.  HaShem made a miracle for us.  Isn't that awesome?"

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